SP Energy Networks develops industry leading tool to predict the uptake of low carbon forms of heating

One of the country’s leading electricity network operators has developed an innovative tool to help speed up the transition to Net Zero, better enabling low carbon forms of heating to be connected across the country.

SP Energy Networks has invested £129k through the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) funding mechanism on this project. The first of its kind, the ‘Heat-Up’ modelling tool, predicts future demand from low carbon forms of electric heating so the company can plan future investment on its network.

Heat-Up will enable the network provider to utilise characteristics of all homes in its region to estimate the size of heat pumps required to heat them and understand the impact on the network due to the increased demand from these connections. Having visibility of the impact ahead of need allows SP Energy Networks to efficiently plan for reinforcement solutions, which is particularly crucial as they approach the next price control period and beyond.  

The Heat-Up tool will also help governments and local authorities better understand the scale of investment required to meet the ambitious decarbonisation of heat targets that have been set, including the installation of up to 600,000 heat pumps per year in the UK by 2028.

SP Energy Networks has partnered with analytics consultancy Field Dynamics to develop the tool, which also offers a wide range of behaviour analysis around use of heat in homes based on real-world data.

Scott Mathieson, Director of Network Planning and Regulation at SP Energy Networks, said: “This year, the UK will welcome the world’s leaders to Glasgow for the UN’s COP26 summit on climate change. Our government has ambitious goals when it comes to Net Zero emissions targets and if we’re to meet them, introducing low carbon heating into homes will be crucial.

“I’m proud that we’re leading the way to Net Zero through innovations like the Heat-Up tool. Learnings from this project will enable more people to switch to low carbon heating, which helps the environment and ultimately enables us to provide a more efficient service for customers and drive down costs.”

The outputs from the Heat-Up tool will be combined with results from EV-Up, a similar tool SP Energy Networks has developed to analyse the predicted uptake of electric vehicles across the country.

This will help provide a fuller picture of the network requirements from the effects of both the decarbonisation of transport and heat, allowing a better understanding of the impact from “the home of the future”.

Charlie Gilbert, Partner at Field Dynamics said: “Reducing emissions from residential heating is one of the great decarbonisation challenges of our times. It has been fantastic to collaborate with the team at SP Energy Networks to develop a truly innovative methodology to assess the combination of policy, technology and environmental factors that impact the network.  The outputs of this project have the potential to not just inform future investments, but also a far wider range of critical Net Zero questions.”

SP Energy Networks is part of the ScottishPower group, a Principal Partner for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow later this year. Ahead of the conference, the company will launch a series of innovations to help supercharge the UK’s journey to Net Zero emissions.

It is developing an energy model that will play a significant role in reaching the UK’s world-leading climate change targets and is investing a total of £10bn in the clean energy generation and networks infrastructure needed to help the UK decarbonise and reach Net Zero emissions.

SP Energy Networks owns and manages overhead and underground powerlines in southern and central Scotland as well as Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and north Shropshire.

For more information about SP Energy Networks and its services, please visit: spenergynetworks.co.uk